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Fall into Graphics - Bleak Bizarre & Beautiful continued...

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

For the purposes of this post let's expand "Graphic Novels" to include books that have Great Graphics in them, and are a cabinet of curiosities in and of themselves! Admittedly, these are not technically graphic novels, but are still well worth it!

Let's start with The Curiosities, a collection of stories compiled for the most part from a blog started by 3 YA all-stars: Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton & Brenna Yovanoff. Its purpose is to challenge the authors with weekly writing exercises outside of their current novels in progress; this great collection of short stories includes many drawings and, fun, hand-written notes by fellow authors commenting (often sarcastically), on the writing of their peers.

Highlights include..... A diagram of Brenna's brain, 5 signs of a Maggie story (angst, cars, sarcasm, kissing, geniuses), drawings of each of their respective work spaces; (Yovanoff's includes just a ghost, a chair and, a monster coffee mug...), and comparative charts of their average story lengths (Tessa's being a ladder to the sky that never ends); complete with snide comments on the side. ;0)-

And if you're squeamish... this book is not quite as creepy as the original Cabinet of Curiosities. Trust me...

Venturing into fairyland; Wish by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser includes sumptuously illustrated pages in full colour making you feel like you are reading through someone's fancy fairy journal.

Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman, features black & white engravings by master carver John Lawrence, as well as photos of newspaper clippings and bills giving it an old time, 1800's, steampunky feel. This short book gives you some unknown background into the characters featured in Pullman's His Dark Materials Series (The Golden Compass).

Unnatural Creatures is a great new book of short stories out by Neil Gaiman dealing with curious creatures such as griffins, sunbirds and werewolves. Titles include such curiosities such as "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees" & "Ozioma The Wicked".

And speaking of Mr. Gaiman... Guess who's coming to town on February 24th to speak for the Calgary Distinguished Writer's Program?..??? for FREE! Yes, that's right folks - get your (Free!) tickets on-line on October 24th at 12 noon sharp to make sure you don't miss out!

Mr. Gaiman recently presented a speech about the importance of imagination and science fiction to our culture. Check it out here! And remember to enter our All Hallow's Read contest for a chance to win one of his books, plus another scary title to give away.

Based on the acclaimed animated film Amaqqut nunaat = The Country of Wolves is a centuries old Inuit folktale that is beautifully retold by Neil Christopher and hauntingly illustrated by Ramon Perez.

Being so close to Halloween I would feel somewhat amiss if I failed to mention that we also have 2 brand NEW Graphic novels versions of two of Edgar Allen Poe's classics; The Pit and The Pendulum, & The Tell-Tale Heart . Happy Hallowed Reading!

nevermore

All Hallow's Read Giveaway

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

all hallow

It's time for one of my favourite new traditions - All Hallow's Read!

This marvelous event started when author extraordinaire Neil Gaiman decided that there just aren't enough traditions that involve giving people books. To rectify this oversight, he invented his own, reasoning that Halloween would be an excellent time to give someone you love a terrifying tale. That's all there is to it - just pick a book, whether spooky, creepy, or downright frightening, and give it to a friend or family member for Halloween.

Great idea, right?

To help you get in the spirit, we have six sets of scary stories to give away - one to keep for yourself, and one to give to a friend. Just tell us your name, phone number, and closest library branch in the comments (we won't publish your personal info), or send an email to teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com. We'll pick the winners on October 25th (so you can have the books in hand for Halloween).

Meanwhile, make this mini-book of Edgar Allen Poe's haunting poem The Raven to hand out to trick-or-treaters (you decide if it's a trick or a treat), read one of our recommendations, or tell us what frightening book you would give a loved one in the comments below.

anna dressed in bloodgraveyard bookreplacementmonstrumologistmiss peregrine's home

Gene Luen Yang: Interview & Giveaway, Part Two

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

boxers & saintsThis is the second part of our interview with Gene Luen Yang - be sure to read Part One.

We're giving away two sets of Boxers & Saints! Just leave your name & contact info in the comments by October 14th to be entered in the draw (we won't publish personal information), or email teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com.

Gene Luen Yang is a Chinese-American graphic novelist whose books deal with themes of identity, belonging, and cultural expectations, and often use humour to deal with dark subjects and themes. He has won the Printz award and multiple Eisner awards, and if that's not reason enough to read his work, you also have my personal recommendation - it's great! Pick up American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile, Prime Baby, Level Up, or Animal Crackers, then read this interview and his newest work, a two-part story called Boxers & Saints.

Q: You have drawn your own work and also worked with other great artists like Derek Kirk Kim and Thien Pham – what kind of process do you go through when writing a graphic novel on your own, and how does that change with a collaborative effort?

A: When you write and draw your own book, you’re in full control. Every line of dialog and every line of drawing comes from you. There’s something very satisfying about that.

When you work with someone else, you lose some of that control, but hopefully you’re trading that control for something more. My drawing style is pretty limited. I’m not that great of an illustrator. There are certain stories in my head that I simply wouldn’t be able to draw adequately. By working with another cartoonist, those stories get expressed more successfully.

Both Derek and Thien have brilliant, unique storytelling voices. They both do write and draw comics on their own. I learned a ton by working with them.

All that said, even the books that I do “on my own” are collaborations. Lark Pien colored both American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints. Her colors are an important part of the storytelling. I also got editorial input on both projects. I worked with designers at First Second, Danica Novgorodoff and Colleen AF Venable, to put the books together.

Q: As a librarian I sometimes have to defend graphic novels, usually to parents who think they aren’t “real” books; do you ever encounter that attitude, and how do you answer that criticism?

A: Yes, I’ve encountered that. My own parents thought like that when I was a kid. That attitude seems less and less prevalent these days. Parents seem to worry more about YouTube and the X-Box now.

I can understand where they’re coming from. I love prose too. I don’t want the prose novel to go away.

Words and pictures are often seen as competing forces, but it doesn’t have to be like that. One doesn’t have to lose for the other to win. Paul Levitz, former head guy at DC Comics, once told me about a study that found American comic book readers read six more prose novels per year than the average American. Comic book readers are readers, period. When you love one kind of book, you tend to love all kinds of books. Comics can support prose, and vice versa.

Q: Your books often deal with themes of identity, belonging, and cultural expectations, whether it’s fitting in as a minority (American Born Chinese), dealing with loneliness (Prime Baby), or balancing the lives we want with the lives our parents want for us (Level Up). Of course these issues are all very relevant to a YA audience – did you set out to write for teens, or did the stories you write just naturally fall there?

A: I started in the world of independent comics, which is very different from the book market. It’s changing now, but when I first started, people in comics didn’t think about age demographics all that much. I just tried to make comics that I would want to read.

After signing on with First Second Books, my comics were placed in the Young Adult category. I think I belong here. It feels right. I taught high school for a number of years. This seems to be the audience I most easily connect with.

Q: Apart from your own work, what books or authors would you recommend to a YA reader?

A: I mentioned Derek Kirk Kim already. He and Les McClaine are doing this great series called Tune. It’s sci-fi meets rom-com meets prison drama. It’s hysterically funny, but it’s also an insightful examination of the loneliness of the creative life.

For slightly younger readers, I’d recommend Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl series. Gorgeous cartooning.

I recently read The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. I really enjoyed it. I especially connected with it because I’m a cartoonist. I mean, chalk drawings that come to life, that can actually fight like Pokemon! What’s not to love?

tunesame differencezita the spacegirlrithmatistavatar

Gene Luen Yang: Interview & Giveaway, Part One

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

We're giving away two sets of Boxers & Saints! Just leave your name & contact info in the comments by October 14th to be entered in the draw (we won't publish personal information), or email teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com.

boxers

Gene Luen Yang is a Chinese-American graphic novelist whose books deal with themes of identity, belonging, and cultural expectations, and often use humour to deal with dark subjects and themes. He has won the Printz award and multiple Eisner awards, and if that's not reason enough to read his work, you also have my personal recommendation - it's great! Pick up American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile, Prime Baby, Level Up, or Animal Crackers, then read this interview and his newest work, a two-part story called Boxers & Saints.

Q: We’re so excited about your latest project, Boxers & Saints – could you tell us a little about what inspired it?

A: I first became interested in the Boxer Rebellion in 2000, when Pope John Paul II canonized 120 Chinese saints. I grew up in a Chinese American Catholic community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Naturally, my home church was incredibly excited by the announcement. When I looked into the lives of these new saints, I discovered that many of them had been martyred during the Boxer Rebellion.

The more I looked into the Boxer Rebellion, the more fascinated I became. The war externalizes a conflict that I think many Asian Christians and Christians of Asian descent feel – a conflict between Eastern culture and Western religion.

Q: Boxers & Saints tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion from two opposing viewpoints; why did you choose to publish it as a two-volume set, instead of in one combined volume?saints

A: One of the reasons I was attracted to the Boxer Rebellion in the first place was that I felt so ambivalent about it. Who were the good guys and who were the bad guys? I couldn’t decide, so I wrote and drew two books from two opposing viewpoints.

Separating the two stories into two physically distinct books forced me to think through each as a complete narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. I hope that each volume can stand on its own. I also hope readers who choose to read both will get something out of the dialog between the two.

Q: As a Catholic yourself, was it difficult to write from the point of view of someone trying to drive out the “foreign devils”, and the "secondary devils" who were Chinese Christians?

A: The “foreign devils” were the European missionaries, merchants, and soldiers. Chinese Christians were considered the “secondary devils”, folks who had succumbed to the foreign devils’ lies.

As I’ve said, my primary reaction to the Boxer Rebellion is ambivalence. I can see myself on either side of the conflict. I sympathize with both the Boxers and their Chinese Christian opponents. I think they had similar motivations. Both sides wanted to keep their identities intact. The Boxers were angry at the way the foreign powers tore down traditional Chinese culture. The Christians died because they wanted to remain true to the identities they’d built for themselves, identities that drew from both Eastern and Western influences.

Q: You have talked on your blog about the similarities between Chinese opera for the boxers and our own modern day pop culture (I adored your Chinese Opera Avengers – in fact, your Thor is my desktop background right now!), and how those inspirations – whether gods or superheroes – can be a source of strength. Can you tell us a bit more about this idea?

A: The Boxers were poor, starving Chinese teenagers, mostly boys, who were deeply embarrassed by the European incursions onto Chinese soil. To deal with this sense of powerlessness in their lives, they did what today’s teenagers do: They looked to the pop culture that surrounded them for empowerment.

Back then, there were these traveling acting troupes that went from village to village performing snippets of classical Chinese opera. Opera was the Boxers’ pop culture. It was their television, their movies, their comic books. Like American superheroes, the gods of the opera wore colorful costumes, had magic powers, and fought otherworldly battles.

Like modern day cosplayers, these teenagers wanted to become their heroes. They came up with this mystical ritual that they believed would call the gods down from the heavens. The gods would grant them superpowers. Then armed with these superpowers, the Boxers ran through the countryside fighting European soldiers, missionaries, and Chinese Christians.

Stories help us make sense of our lives. They let one generation to communicate with the next. They give us examples to either follow or shun.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this interview early next week!

american born chineseeternal smileprime babylevel upanimal crackers

Page by Page

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

pages staffYou always knew your Calgary Public Library card got you wicked stuff IN the library (free books, free programs, free homework help, free music, free space...) but just the other day we found out about an awesome deal your card will get you OUTSIDE the library too!

Pages on Kensington offers a 10% discount off books to any teen who shows their Library Card at time of purchase! That's ANY book, with ANY CPL Teen Library Card! We understand that sometimes you just can't wait for 400 people to finish reading the hottest title before you get your hands on it, or that sometimes you love a book so much you just HAVE to have your own copy... when those times hit, head over to Pages!

And if you're confused about the part where we said "ANY Teen Library Card", that's probably because you didn't know we now offer several different styles of cards, not to mention the chance to customize your own from photos or artwork (for a pretty penny, but could you ASK for a better cause?)! The best deal in town just got even better!

 

 

 

The boys from Pages love their ya lit!


Read Across Canada - Manitoba

by Monique - 0 Comment(s)

We've now made it to Manitoba, it wasn't so bad getting here, right? Let's look at 2 authors from Manitoba.

Margaret Buffie was born and raised in Winnipeg and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Manitoba. Once she had graduated, she began working as an illustrator for the Hudson's Bay Company. She eventually obtained her teaching certificate in 1976. She began her writing career in 1985. A year later, she completed her first manuscript and submitted it for publication, Who is Frances Rain? It became a best seller after it was published in 1987. Since then, she has gone on to write numerous critically acclaimed novels for young adults, including My Mother's Ghost, The Watcher's Quest series, The Dark Garden, and Angels turn their backs and Out of Focus. Depending on the time of year, will depend on where she spends her time writing. During the winter months, she is at her home in Winnipeg and during the summer months, she writes at her cottage in Northwestern Ontario. Margaret has been the recipient of the prestigious Vicky Metcalk Award for Body of Work, The Young Adult Canadian Book Award, the McNally Robinson Book for Young People award and many other awards and honours.

In Who is Frances Rain?, Lizzie used to look forward to vacationing at her grandmother's cabin. That is until this summer, when the entire family is joining her, including her stepfather, whom she dislikes. In order to get away from her families bickering, Lizzie explores an island that is nearby. It is during her exploring, she finds an abandoned cabin and finds a pair of glasses. She tries them on and finds herself watching a woman and a girl. Lizzie has to find out who they are and why they are appearing to her, will she be successful?

Carol Matas lives in Winnipeg. She has written more than forty books for kids, teens and young adults. Her works have been translated into Spanish, Catalan, Japanese, Taiwanese, Turkish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, German, French, Indonesian, Bulgarian and Russian. Her works have won several awards including Sydney Taylor Award, Geoffrey Bilson Award, Silver Birch Award, Canadian Jewish Book Award, as well as being nominated for the Governor General's Award twice. Carol began to write historical fiction when her Danish husband would tell her stories about his parents' experiences fighting the Nazis during World War II. She also writes contemporary, science fiction and fantasy novels as well. Some of her works include : Far, Visions, Jesper, Daniel's Story, The Whirlwind, Lisa's War, Tales of a Reluctant Psychic, and In My Enemy's House.


In In My Enemy's House, the Nazis are ready to move any remaining Jewish people in Marrisa's town into the ghetto. Marissa, who doesn't know if her family is dead or alive as they are now all scattered, gets hold of a Polish girl's papers and makes her way to Germany to try and survive as a Polish worker. One gains a new perspective on the nature of good and evil as you delve into Marissa's dilemma as a Jewish person living a lie in order to survive. Will Marissa be able to convince people that she is Polish and leave behind her Jewish roots?

Now it's time to hit the road again and make our way to Ontario.

YAC Reviews: The Laura Line

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

yac reviews

the laura lineThe Laura Line by Crystal Allen

Review by Vyoma

This was a very relatable and notable book. The adventures of Laura Dyson and her struggle for acceptance by her classmates show cases her strong personality. I loved reading this book because of its sporadic humor, its sense of belonging, and its imagery. By the end of the book, Laura Dyson felt like a friend rather than a character in a book. The innumerable details about Laura’s surroundings and the process of making significant decisions show that an individual should never be ashamed of his/her family’s background. Embarrassed to show anyone the “slave shack”, Laura attempts to cancel her class’s field trip. After finally entering the shack, she finds so many wonderful things about it and her ancestors. One silly mistake ruins a priceless item – a legendary little chair. On the verge of breaking strong friendship and her already poor relationship with her classmates, Laura is absolutely stuck. Through patience, cajoling, and being laconic, Laura finally makes important decisions.

YA Lit Pick - September

by Monique - 0 Comment(s)

Cover Art for I am the wallpaper

Looking for that next great read? Check out I am the Wallpaper by Peter Mark Hughes. 13-year-old Floey Parker is tired of blending into the background, living in the shadow of her older and more popular sister Lillian. With her sister getting married and heading off on her month long honeymoon, Floey decides it is time for a change — time to become someone she normally would not be. She is going to get noticed, no matter what it takes. Some things don't go as planned, due to Floey's younger cousins Tish and Richard, who happen to throw a wrench into her plans. It doesn't help that her mom expects her to spend time with them during their stay. Will Floey survive her cousins' antics? Will she get noticed for all the right reasons?


Although the author is male, he has done a great job of portraying a female main character who is discovering herself. There were times where I found myself wishing it would move along, yet cheering her on during her quest in finding her true self.

Points of Departure, pt 2

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

How do you find somewhere that is figuratively in the middle of nowhere? Even worse, what if the place in question is also literally nowhere, except in the pages of the book?

MontanaAs Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth, by Charlotte Perkins is a comically disastrous travelogue. The journey kicks off in the town of New Pêche, where 16 year old Ry - on his way to summer camp- arrives after mistakenly getting off the train in the middle of the Montana wilderness, setting off an escalating series of travel misadventures.

I scoured the map, but couldn’t see any town in Montana by that name. Perkins' observation that Pêche is French for Peach is a red herring, as further sleuthing revealed that it’s also French for fishing. And there IS a town called Whitefish in Montana….

Henry River Mill VillageSearching for places gets a bit trickier in speculative fiction. Place names, and sometimes even the geography, can change, but these locations can still be teased out.

District 12 of The Hunger Games is located somewhere in the Appalachian region of what is currently the United States. In the film versions, a full-scale version of the district was created in Henry River Mill Creek, North Carolina. Like Harry Potter, this has resulted in an adjunct tourism industry, complete with tours and camps (I don’t know that this would be my idea of a relaxing vacation). If you’re really keen you can even buy it!

Ship breaking

The New Orleans described in Ship Breaker is, to date, a far cry from the city as it exists now. The hulking shells of freighters that fill the shoreline can be found in other locales, however. A landscape that author Paolo Bacigalupi may have envisioned currently exists in Chittagong, Bangladesh and was documented in a stunning series by photographer Edward Burtynsky.

MoonThe precise terrestrial location of Zone Seven in the tyrannical 'Mother Land' is left vague in Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon. The lunar landscape, on the other hand, is described in vivid detail as the regime celebrates the imminent moon landing. The fate of this landing and those of Standish and his friend Hector become increasingly intertwined in this tense and heartbreaking book.

As easy as falling off the face of the earthCatching FireShip BreakerMaggot Moon

Cram Your Summer Reading In Now

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

Photo Credit: http://www.etsy.com/listing/35063991/books-printI love books. I love ALL books. I love ancient books and new books and bad books and blue books. I love classics, adaptations, translations, blatant rip-offs, movie novelizations, and sometimes even pure, awful, fan-fic-y drivel.

There is nothing I love more than getting my hands on a book I've never read before...

But no, wait... that's a lie. Because there IS something I love more than a new book.

An OLD book. A book that I've already loved. A lot. And I don't mean like... "I read that book ages ago and can't remember the plot, I should read it again". I mean like "I-have-read-this-book-so-many-times-the-words-come-easier-to-me-than-breathing". Like "I-am-reading-the-words-in-my-minds-eye-before-my-real-eye-even-gets-to-them-on-the-page". Like "Move over, J.K. Rowling, I've got this ish on lock!"

And yes, as you can imagine, there are some pretty touchy-feely reasons for doing it. Every July 1st (since 1998) I have sat down to the comforting words “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” and this wave of pure nostalgic happiness washes over me… like getting a massive bear hug from an old friend (the twirly kind where your legs dangle in the air) and it’s just… bliss. And it’s true, I DO find something new that I’ve never noticed before each time I read an old favourite. For example, this past July when I read that “the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban”, what I realized for the first time ever was that Fred and George WERE THROWING SNOWBALLS AT VOLDEMORT’S FACE and it’s a miracle that they weren’t Avada Kedavra’d on the spot.



So yes, I have a set list of favourites that I re-read EVERY summer (all 7 HP’s, The Hobbit, The LOTR Trilogy, and 3 different Tamora Pierce Quartets; Allana, Daine and Kel), and have since I was about 11 years old, and I don’t even feel a little bit weird or guilty or childish about it. Here’s why:

It’s good for your Brain. Your brain needs the chance to relax after a whole year of cramming during school. You need a certain amount of vegging-out so that you can start… vegging-IN, come September. But you also can’t just do NOTHING all summer… you’ll get Brain Drain, and start using double negatives in your sentences or something outrageous like that! Best thing to do? Exercise those synaptic connections by picking up a book you know you love: it might not be challenging, per se, but it's working out all the right muscles and keeping the cogs turning. And then you won't have to worry about regressing a grade level or anything horrifying like that.

It's good for your Body. Re-reading comes with some surprising health benefits that are linked to our emotional releases and sense of well-being. It's theraputic. And before anyone asks, no, that is not a picture of me in that first article... EVERYONE loves HP.

It's good for your Soul. Hot on the heels of me saying how much I love ALL books, I also have to speak to the utter power of curriculum-required, school-assigned readings to crush your soul. It's summer! Read what you want! Read WHATEVER you want. If that means forgoing "Ender's Game" (and just waiting for the movie) or postponing the latest George R.R. Martin in favour of picking up Percy Jackson one more time, just do it! Life is too short to read bad books. Enjoy your free time will while you have it!

Also... a lot of really successful people do it. A lot of super smart people testify to the importance of re-reading favourite books. That’s how you know it’s a good idea.

So here's my recommendation: Spend some time this summer with well-loved favourites. You'll thank yourself (and ME!) for it.

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